Rennaisance of Terrazzo / 2016.12.12 


Drifted across the sea, Italian terrazzo went ashore on an oriental country. It was not being recognized by the majority for decades, yet followed by a tidal wave of construction and had granted life.

Antifouling, cheap and elegant. Terrazzo has been the most common material applied on floortiles in the socialistic China.

Terrazzo has witnessed the rapidly changing society, went through the climax of social transformation, accompanied with those who were born in the 80s. Commercialized  development were accerlerated, social resourse shifted from divergent to convergent, the cultural environment was no longer self-focusing but started on surveying the  world. There were more and more foreign goods introduced into the silence.

Alive in chaos, overwhelmed by livelihood, the hearts of people were tempered just like how water, gravel and time has polished terrazoo. At this moment terrazzo was not  only a kind of decorative material in public building but also serve for the duty of an “attendee” who experiences and momorizes.  Stairs, floortiles, side pillars... In a space  made up with terrazzo there is a generation who refuse to be sifted out from the old era, another one who is ready to accept and absorb, and the upcoming one who is  going to change and create. Terrazzo is in fact a media in terms of emotional sustenance, a figurative nostalia.

However terrazzo is weeded out from contemporary China.

The rise of ceramic tile made terrazzo get criticized for time consuming when being made and being expensive in afterward maintaining. But rather than of ascribing the elimination to a matter of course with regards to fashion change and market balance, we turned our cold shoulders to terrazoo instead. We lose our culture as well  as our taste. We get attracted by showy and ornate presentation, have our eye covered by our own desire. Terrazzo is unable to keep pace with the new material world, nor  to fit itself in a market of vanity. No one would seek for spiritual comfort in terrazzo, nor to dig inner memory out of terrazzo. Terrazzo seems doomed to lose its vigour in a  pallid time - but it cease to seem so in some European cities where terrazzo is evreywhere.

Such persistence is not any kind of childish stubbornness. It is, the European are touched and cherished by the beauty that they had paid a lot of time to achieve. They do  not ritually place the terrazzo in a museam to show their treasuring but put it into daily life instead. People kept making terrazzo again and again, kept researching and  elaborating non-stop. Terrazzo lives in their life.

The ‘terrazzo rennaisance’ that Chinese would love to relish is merely an initial result within a long study to European. It is not even a real rennaisance as terrazzo has never been desolated in Europe. Consequently moving terrazzo from a building material to product material is just a matter of time.

I am not going to say that the revival boom of terrazzo in China is nothing but the people blindly follow the trend of fashion and hype because, I believe, there is a desire  deep inside ourselves pushing us to find the terrazzo that belongs to us.

Unfortunately it is impractical. Introducing and immitating the Italian terrazzo does not cure our Chinese nostaglia. Either does it connect the emotional chasm among us that had been teared apart for decades.

In the contemporary China there does not lack of sounds that cry for terrazzo but none of these had made a change. Despite of environmental factor like lacking of public concern, the key reason is we have not yet to realize the core issue - Innovation. 

Innovation is not creating something out of nowhere. Every material has its own spirit, what we have to do is to explore the spirit over and over again, to uncover the temperaments of the material, to satisfy the temporary demand under temporary context. The reason why a material could be vigorous is not internal but external - It  is the human who brings life to the material, makesit symbolized and echoes with humanity.